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Environmental stewardship assistance back under Labor: but with less funding.

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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E W

Federal Member for Wannon

1 September 2008


Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, has welcomed Labor’s backflip on the Coalition’s $50 million Environmental Stewardship programme - originally axed in Labor’s first budget - but expressed disappointment that Labor’s plan will fall $12.5 million short.

“On Saturday, Labor very quietly announced the launch of a bold “new” programme, a $37.5 million Environmental Stewardship Pilot,” Mr Hawker said.

“We all know that this Labor Government are masters at rebadging highly successful Coalition programs, hence the Natural Heritage Trust has become Caring for our Country, but in this case there was not even the pretence of a new name for the old programme, which targets the same vegetation species and ecosystems that were funded in the Howard Government’s Environmental Services Programs,” he said.

“What is new is the contraction of funding available, from $50 million to just $37.5 million, even though the Labor Government continues to enjoy a $22 billion surplus built up and handed to it by the Coalition.”

The Environmental Stewardship programme, first implemented by the Coalition Government, was designed to assist farmers and land managers to manage environmental projects on their own land.

Farmers occupy and manage around 61% of Australia's landmass and as such, they are at the frontline in delivering environmental outcomes on behalf of the wider community.

Mr Hawker said the new pilot was launched without the Minister for the Environment or the Minister for Agriculture anywhere in sight.

“These Ministers are no doubt embarrassed that their bright “new” programme is in fact a back-flip about a crucial programme that never should have been axed, but has now been reinstated with a 25 per cent cut in funding,” he said.

“At least Labor cannot be accused of inconsistency in its treatment of environmental funding. Landcare has been slashed by 20 per cent, Catchment Management Authorities by 40 per cent, the great Greencorps traineeship program has been converted to a Work for the Dole programme for the long term unemployed and Envirogrants have completely disappeared.”

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Media contact: Jane Templeton (02) 6277 4118